Earvin “Magic” Johnson

earvinEarvin “Magic” Johnson is recognized as one of the best basketball players in the history of the sport. He will also be remembered as the first sports performer of international stature to declare openly that he had contracted the HIV virus.

Magic Johnson was born in the state of Michigan, and quickly rose to fame in the state by becoming an outstanding player for Michigan State. At 6 foot 9 inches, Magic was a formidable player. An enthusiastic sports reporter gave “Magic” the nickname to him during his high school years. During his college years, he developed a rivalry with another future National Basketball Association (NBA) superstar, Larry Bird, then playing for the Indiana State basketball team. Their rivalry would be one of the main forces to generate interest in the NBA in the early 1980s.  

During his playing days in the NBA, from 1979 to 1991, Johnson was named the league’s Most Valuable Player three times. He also became attractive to commercial advertisers during a period when it had become less taboo to use African American athletes to endorse products. Johnson, however, was always guarded about his comments regarding racial issues. However, he was active in charity work, and in general maintained a very positive light in the public’s eye throughout his career.  

On announcing his retirement, Johnson stated that he had contracted the HIV virus from unprotected heterosexual sex. However, tales and rumours circulated in the press and in popular discourse about Johnson’s sexual exploits during his days as a NBA superstar. Ironically, Johnson, upon retirement, became a spokesperson for safe sex. Another famous sports star, tennis player Martina Navratilova, criticized Johnson and pointed out that if the same comments had been made publicly by a female, she would have been labeled a “slut.” Navratilova probably made a good point. Not only was Johnson’s public image a positive one, but also he was actually seen as a role model for heterosexual family life.  

The events and controversies surrounding Johnson’s retirement probably raised his status as an athlete in the public eye, making his career that much more notable. There is little question, then, that the combination of incredible athletic prowess and the events surrounding his retirement will bestow upon Magic Johnson a prestigious position in sports history.

1 thought on “Earvin “Magic” Johnson

  • recognize


    if something is recognized by people, they realize that it is important or very good :
    Alexander tried to get his work recognized by the medical profession.
    be recognized as something
    Lawrence’s novel was eventually recognized as a work of genius.
    a recognized authority on Roman pottery



    the degree to which someone is admired or regarded as important
    of world/international/national stature
    Armstrong was a musician of world stature.
    He grew in stature (= became more admired or popular ) during the campaign.
    stature as
    his growing stature as an artist



    formal to get an illness SYN catch :
    Two-thirds of the adult population there have contracted AIDS.


    very powerful or impressive, and often frightening
    The new range of computers have formidable processing power.
    He has a formidable voice. (=very loud)
    His mother is a most formidable woman.


    feeling or showing a lot of interest and excitement about something

    enthusiastic about (doing) something
    All the staff are enthusiastic about the project.
    The singer got an enthusiastic reception.
    an enthusiastic supporter of reform


    competition; (a case of ) being rivals:

    There was a friendly rivalry between the two women.
    There was fierce/intense rivalry between the two companies to get the contract.
    the two friends’ rivalry for the love of Manizheh
    There has always been intense rivalry between New Zealand and Australia.
    The two players have developed a friendly rivalry .
    She had never overcome her feelings of sibling rivalry (=rivalry between brothers and sisters) .

    not accepted as socially correct

    It’s taboo to date a man a lot younger than you.


    sexually attracted to people of the other sex



    to (cause to) spread widely; if information, facts, ideas etc circulate, they become known by many people

    Rumours began circulating that the Prime Minister was seriously ill.
    The news of the enemy’s defeat quickly circulated around the town.
    A lot of false information has been circulated.
    Rumors of a military coup began to circulate.




    serious conversation or discussion between people :
    Candidates should engage in serious political discourse.



    to treat someone unfairly by asking them to do things for you, but giving them very little in return – used to show disapproval :
    Homeworkers can easily be exploited by employers.


    used when talking about a situation in which the opposite of what you expected happens or is true

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    spokesman or spokeswoman, used especially when you do not want to say whether the person is a man or a woman

    spokesperson for

    A spokesperson for the company read to waiting reporters from a prepared statement.
    spokesperson on

    the Labour Party spokesperson on education
    government/party/union etc spokesperson

    A government spokesperson has denied the allegations of corruption.



    a serious argument about something that involves many people and continues for a long time
    a political controversy

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    controversy over/about
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    your social or professional rank or position, considered in relation to other people
    high/low status low-status jobs

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    great skill at doing something

    his physical prowess
    military prowess

    to give:
    Several gifts were bestowed on the royal visitors.
    bestow something on/upon somebody
    honours bestowed on him by the Queen

    admired as one of the best and most important

    a prestigious literary award a highly prestigious university
    a prestigious job


    sexually attracted to people of the other sex

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